Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Housekeeping from 2015, etc. (15-Jan-2016)

I don't have a pattern roundup post this week because we only saw one major new pattern release and an expansion pack (that I'm aware of). So, instead of a pattern roundup, I'm writing a housekeeping post. I've got a handful of projects from 2015 that I never actually blogged here. I had every intention of blogging them here, but at this point, they just feel like a lead weight around my neck. Consider this post mostly just a logging post for my own purposes.

Decades of Style: Decades Everyday - Three's a Charm Jacket

Before I get into the project log, I just want to give a heads up about the one new pattern that I saw released this week. If you follow them on social media, Decades of Style has been teasing their new unlined jacket pattern for a while, and this past week, it was finally released. It's also 20% off (use code JANUARY20) until the end of the month.

I love this and snapped it up. Decades of Style (and particularly the Decades Everyday line) get such great reviews from curvy sewists, and this simple jacket looks both like it should be easy to make and super versatile. You get the structure of a jacket, a nice open neckline, but none of the fussy jacket details.

Decades Everyday - Three's a Charm Jacket
Muse Patterns: Jenna Expansion Pack

Kat from Muse just released an expansion pack for her popular Jenna cardigan. The expansion pack gives an open neckline option (yay!) or the option of a Peter Pan collar. The open neckline option is actually a cardigan that I had in my head (with the shoulder ruching), so it's nice to see that Kat has drafted this for me now without having to try to hack it myself.

Muse Patterns - Jenna Expansion pack

Finished Project (from months ago): Blank Slate Denver Tunic

If you follow me on the Curvy Sewing Collective, I wrote this up back in October (ugh), with plans to do a more comprehensive post about my alterations, etc, over here. Clearly, I never got around to that follow-up post. After having this tunic in my wardrobe for a few months now, I can easily say that I love it. That cotton-lycra jersey is SO soft, and it hasn't been pilling at all yet.

Blank Slate Denver Tunic
Closet Case Files - Carolyn Pajamas

I made a set of Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas as my December project for FabricMart. I try to keep my posts over there fairly light and non-technical and didn't go much into my alterations for the pattern, which I had intended to do over here. Given that I finished these PJs nearly a month ago, trying to reconstruct my construction process just seems like a monumental task at this point, so I'm going to just let this one go.

I love these pajamas a ton and have been wearing them several times a week. I absolutely expect to make this pattern a few more times, and I'll try to share my alterations, etc, with you on the next pass when the info is more fresh in my brain. In a nutshell, this was a really fun pattern, and I found the fit to be expected per the sizing chart.

Closet Case Files - Carolyn Pajamas

Blank Slate - Pocket PJs

The Pocket PJs were Eva's Christmas pajamas this year. She's been hugely into Thomas the Tank Engine for the past year or so, so I made these from jammies from two different prints of Thomas-themed quilting cotton. I've used Blank Slate's Pocket PJ pattern for Eva before and really liked it, so it was a no-brainer for me to pull out this PDF again. She's grown out of the Pocket PJs that I made her last summer, so I made the new pair in a 4T rather than the 3T that I used last time. Yay for PDF patterns and just printing off a new size as your child grows!

Because she's Eva, and she never stops moving for photos, I don't have any decent modeled shots, so here are a couple of tormenting-the-cat modeled shots and a couple of flat shots.
Blank Slate Pocket PJs

Blank Slate Pocket PJs + petting the cat with a thing of dental floss

Detail shot

Full set - flat

Final Thoughts

It feels good to get caught up and to not have those posts hanging over my head. Things just got so busy around here at the end of the year that my personal blog was one thing that I had to let slip a bit.

On top of that, after going through a big year-end-push, my sewjo has been seriously AWOL. To try to not let it slide too much, I'm currently working on the SBCC Pinot Pants (a yoga-style pant) and one of the new HotPatterns sweatshirts. Cozy is a good thing in January.

Friday, January 8, 2016

This Week in Patterns (8-Jan-2016)

First pattern roundup of the new year!  Not surprisingly, we've got several batches of new patterns to go through.

  • Colette/Seamwork
  • Simplicity
  • StyleArc
  • Vogue
Colette/Seamwork: January 2016 Issue ("The Body Issue")

Colette's Seamwork magazine this month has an "activewear" theme. For the two Seamwork patterns this month, we get an exercise top and exercise pants.

Seamwork: Aires Exercise Tights

The Aires Exercise tights are notable less for design and more for the fact that they include a crotch gusset for easier movement and are available in a 3XL (56" or 142cm hip size). Off the top of my head, this is the largest size range for a commercial pattern for actual exercise tights. (If you're a plus sized sewist, you might have found that it's nearly as difficult to find plus sized activewear sewing patterns as it is to find plus sized activewear in RTW.) I'm really glad to see that there's finally a pattern to fill this niche. Sure, there's some gratuitous piecing/color-blocking here, but I could see this being quite a useful pattern for many of us.

Seamwork - Aires exercise tights

Seamwork: Rio Tee

The Rio is a hi-low tee that can be used in activewear.  I don't have much to say about this one way or another--it doesn't really fill a niche the way that the Aires does, but I guess Seamwork needed to release a second pattern this month.

Seamwork - Rio tee
Simplicity: Spring 2016 release

I'm linking to Pattern Review's version of this batch of patterns because the Simplicity website is nearly completely unusable right now. As far as I can tell, these patterns aren't even up there yet, even though they're available through PR and in some big box stores. I do like some of the patterns in this batch and will probably buy them at a future JoAnn's sale.

Simplicity 8047: Amazing Fit Dress

It's Simplicity's take on the over-crop-top trend that we're starting to see for Spring. We'll see it again in the new StyleArc patterns. I like this option--it's a way to do the crop top trend (if you're a trend person) without showing skin, if that's something that you tend to avoid (like I do).

Simplicity 8047
Simplicity 8053: Misses' shirts

Hey, it's a Grainline Archer shirt, but with shoulder princess seams AND cup sizes up to a DD! There's even an open v-neck option, similar to Colette's Aster shirt. This one looks like a great wardrobe basic pattern to me.

Simplicity 8053

Simplicity 8050: 40's dress reissue

I haven't watched Agent Carter, but I'm seeing a lot of people online saying that this pattern is a call to that character's costuming. I'm going to assume that's the case with Simplicity, but having not even seen the show, I still love this dress as a standalone pattern.

Simplicity 8050

Simplicity 8074: Misses' Costumes

So, here we've got a couple of different takes on Sand Snakes costumes (interesting, considering how poorly those characters translated from the Song of Ice and Fire books to HBO's Game of Thrones), and what's that hidden in the back over on the right?  Is that an unlicensed (and probably rushed into production after the trailer was released) Rey costume from The Force Awakens? On a related note, if my daughter wants to be BB-8 for Halloween next year, does that give me an excuse to dress my husband up as Kylo Ren?

Simplicity 8074
StyleArc: January 2016 release

With StyleArc drifting towards a minimalist, boxy aesthetic for many of their recent releases, it's nice to see this new group of patterns for January. Most of these patterns capitalize on current trends, and when combined, could even be used to make a capsule wardrobe. Additionally, for January, in addition to the monthly freebie that StyleArc always offers (this month, it's the Kendall knit top), if you buy two of the new patterns, you can select a third for free. So, doing the math, that's four patterns for the price of two.

StyleArc: Crystal Over-shirt

The assymmetrical hem on this one is starting to feel a little dated, but other than that (which could easily be altered), this is both a really unique and wearable design. The back detail is unexpected and fun.

StyleArc - Crystal over-shirt
StyleArc: Kendall Knit Top (January Freebie)

The Kendall is a nice basic knit top with a draped shawl collar. It's also the "official" freebie for the month of January, if you buy any other paper patterns this month. It's not the world's most exciting design, but it's definitely one that you could get a lot of mileage and wear out of with different fabrics. Not bad for a freebie.

StyleArc - Kendall knit top

Madison Top

The Madison is a trapeze-shaped raglan-sleeved top that be made up either in a knit or a stable woven.  This is probably my least favorite pattern out of the January bunch in that it's the least interesting (to me). Again, like the other patterns this month, it's certainly a fine basic, though.

StyleArc - Madison top

Taylor Knit Skirt

The Taylor is a pull-on knit skirt with a split hem. From the line drawings, it almost gives the effect of a faux wrap skirt. I like this one--it's a fun design and looks like it would be comfortable and easy to make and wear.

StyleArc - Taylor knit skirt
StyleArc: Kylie Knit Top

The Kylie knit top has an overlay to mimic the appearance of the crop tops that were everywhere last year, but with its underlayer, will show less skin than a traditional crop.  I love the design of this one, although with the boxy overlayer, I'm doubtful as to how it would look on my own busty figure.

StyleArc - Kylie Knit Top
Vogue Patterns: Spring 2015 release

I know that I've made this confession before, but I'll make it again. It's hard for me to do Vogue recaps because Vogue patterns, while often having interesting details, are so far outside of my own personal style aesthetic. I know that I've seen a lot of positive comments about this collection in other online sewing communities, but I largely reacted to it with a shrug--there are a LOT of boxy and/or artsy-type designs in this batch that aren't anywhere close to the clothing that I wear.  That said, here are the picks that I found most interesting:

V1488: DKNY Shirtdress

This wrap-tie is an interesting way to bring some shape to this shirtdress. This could be cute and fun to wear in the summer. Realistically, it's probably the only pattern in this collection that I could realistically see myself buying.

V9168: Misses Flutter Sleeve Dress, Belt, and Slip

In its maxi-length (as shown), this dress is a bit too Laura Ashley for me. But imagine it shortened to, say, knee-length, and I think it could be really cute. I'm intrigued by the sheer-dress-over-slip concept, too.

V1494: Sandra Betzina Coat and Vest

I'm not normally a big fan of Sandra Betzina's designs (again, they're fine; they're just not my style at all), but I do really like the interesting seaming on this coat and vest pattern.


Final Thoughts

So that's this weeks' patterns. I'm tempted to order a few of those StyleArcs--particularly with the 4-for-the-price-of-2 deal that they have going for the January patterns. Beyond that, I can see myself picking up the shoulder-princess-seamed button-up from Simplicity and that 40's dress (just to have...because it's awesome). I think I'm at the point where I'd probably collect Star Wars costume patterns just for the sake of having them, but I'd be shocked if we don't see some actual officially licensed ones in the coming months--especially with Simplicity having the license for Disney's other costume patterns. Your thoughts/favorites?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Top 5 Reflections and Goals from 2015

Boy, I really am dragging this Top 5 thing out, aren't I?  To be fair, though, I think I've done a "goals" post every year that I've been regularly blogging. This one is a little late this year due to a particularly busy end-of-year run of posting over at the Curvy Sewing Collective and life getting in the way.


Top 5 (6?) Reflections from 2015's goals


I didn't use the "Top 5" format to set my sewing goals last year, and from going through my post, it looks like I set six actual sewing goals for myself last year. Here's my post from last year, where I reflected back on 2014 and set my goals for 2015.

How did I do?

6. Finish that damn winter coat.

The "damn winter coat" in question was my Simplicity Leanne Marshall coat (ultimately categorized as a "miss" by me). I may not have worn the finished coat much, but I did finish it, at least. I did end up pattern testing the CCF Clare Coat, which I'm much happier with and which has been getting worn a fair amount on non-rainy days.

5. Fabric stash goal: Shop my stash first, shop local for wovens, and quality over quantity.

I didn't track things to quantify this, but I feel like I generally did this.  Discovering Japanese cottons this past year was a huge factor in my progress towards quality-over-quantity. Shopping local more was certainly helped by an office move to a location right off the bus line that stops very close to two of my favorite local indie stores.

4. Sew a water-resistant jacket with a hood.

Yeah, no. This was a carry-over goal from 2014, and it didn't happen in 2015, either. Without making too many excuses, there are a few reasons why this hasn't happened yet:
  1. Up until December, we were having a really warm, dry year. Not having much need for said jacket certainly didn't help my motivation to actually sew the jacket.
  2. Lack of commercial pattern options. Have you looked for a jacket like this? Then narrow the available options down to one that's available in a plus size range.  There just aren't a whole lot of choices out there. Yes, I know that everyone loves the Sewaholic Minoru; I like it, too, but I am the exact opposite of the shape that Tasia drafts for AND outside of her size range. I can't imagine what a headache it would be to alter that pattern to fit.
  3. Related to #2, I sort of have an idea in my head as far as what I want in a jacket, and of the few options out there, they're all missing some key feature. The closest is this BurdaStyle jacket from a few years ago, but A) I'm hesitant to tackle a garment type that I don't have a ton of experience in with Burda's notably sparse instructions and B) it has cut-on sleeves, and I don't know how I'd feel about that. I do have the pattern--I should get off my butt and at least muslin it.
3. Jeans! Jeans! Jeans!

I'm not sure how to score myself on this one. I made two pairs of StyleArc Misty jeans, which I love and wear all the time, AND they fit pretty decently. However, they're pull-on jeans, and not "real" jeans. In the "real" jeans department, I made a lot of progress with a Burda Plus pattern, but I'm still tweaking the fit a little bit. Partial credit?

2. Fit and sew a button-down blouse.

Done, thanks to the Blank Slate Marigold pattern. I've also muslined the Blank Slate Novelista and had a successful pattern test of another button-down shirt, which you'll be seeing when the pattern is released. I'm comfortable marking this one as "accomplished", but you'll be seeing more shirtmaking from me in 2016, as well.

1. Watch and complete the relevant projects for at least two of my Craftsy classes.

Partial credit on this one. I watched Kathleen Cheetham's plus size pant fitting class the whole way through and have been incorporating some of the adjustments that I learned from the class into my pant-fitting. I started watching numerous other classes but then got "Ooh Shiney!-ed" away from them. When I set this goal, I specifically had completion of Beverly Johnson's bra-making class and one or more of Suzy Furrer's sloper classes in mind, and while I started each of them (and found them interesting and engaging), in both cases I got distracted by other projects and didn't complete them.

Top 5 Goals for 2016

I'm a list-checker. Goals help motivate me. Here are the top 5 sewing goals that I want to accomplish in 2016:

5. Finally sew that rain jacket.

I'm carrying this one over again because it's a gaping hole in my closet. I need just get on with it and make something from an existing pattern and stop waiting for my "perfect pattern" to be released. If that pattern ever is released, there's no rule that says I can't make a second jacket.

4. Sew Eva's Halloween costume.

This was a goal in 2014 and should have been a goal in 2015, but I forgot to put it on the list. My mom used to sew my Halloween costume every year, and I want to carry on that tradition with my own daughter. However, for the past two years, the costumes that she's chosen (Elsa from Frozen and "a blue robot") have been major undertakings. As of right now, she says that for next Halloween, she either wants to be Elsa again (of course, 2014's dress no longer fits) or wants to be BB-8 from Star Wars--I can only imagine what a huge project turning a 4-year-old into a ball-shaped droid will be.

3. Finish Beverly Johnson's two bra-making classes from Craftsy and start sewing my own bras.

I am SO OVER paying $70+ each for RTW bras, and my current batch of RTW bras have seen better days. I would have hopped on the bra-making bandwagon of the past year or so sooner, but there aren't a ton of pattern options out there for large band and large cup sizes (I'll be writing more about this over at the CSC next month). I dropped a bunch of Christmas money on bra-making supplies, and I'm really hoping to develop a TNT bra pattern for myself this year that I can use to adapt to whatever style I want to make.

2. Start sewing my own underwear.

For years, I've worn Lane Bryant's underwear, usually purchased online. With my last few batches, though, I've noticed a lot of inconsistency in fit (even in the same size) and in the quality/type of elastic used. Everyone says that sewing your own underwear is fast (once you have a TNT pattern) and is a great use of scraps. I'm tired of paying $30 for a set of 5 new panties and finding out that only 2 of the pairs are actually comfortable to wear.

1. Develop skirt and bodice slopers for myself.

Like many others, I have Suzy Furrer's Craftsy skirt and bodice sloper classes sitting in my Craftsy queue. I would really like to start developing sloper patterns for myself. Now, I have read various places that while her skirt sloper drafting method work for most women, the bodice sloper is a lot trickier, especially if your measurements are outside of the industry standard norm. (My upper body measurements are light years away from the industry standard norm.) I'm going to give Suzy's classes a try first, since they are generally well-reviewed, but I'm looking at other options if her methods don't work for my uber-busty figure.

So that's it for my goals for this year. I think they're doable (I hope). How about you--are you setting sewing goals for yourself for 2016?